Despite getting off to a very slow, sloppy start, it was only a matter of time before you knew UK was going to hit their stride. While the game was close for the majority of the first half, a big 17-2 run by the Cats led to a 41-31 halftime lead.
After the break, it got sloppy...really sloppy. Both teams got chippy, there were three flagrant fouls, Jerry Stackhouse got a technical (after Calipari got one in the first half), and Kentucky’s two best players were in foul trouble.
It wasn’t pretty, but UK survived, and a win’s a win.
And no, Shaedon Sharpe did not play amid the pregame report, though that could be because this game never had enough distance between the two teams to let a kid make his debut.
Next up, the Cats will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday night.
The Cats were sloppy at times, but they still put on a beautiful passing display. A telling stat when looking at good offensive teams is the way they share the ball.
Kentucky obviously has one of the best passers in college basketball with Sahvir Wheeler, but it’s not just him. UK has been excellent sharing the ball this season and this game was no different.
In the first half alone, Kentucky racked up 11 assists on just 14 made field goals. On the other hand, the Commodores had just two assists on 11 made field goals to go along with 11 turnovers. The assists-to-turnover ratio for this team has been great all season and continued in this game.
While the Cats have a small stretch or two a game where they go on long droughts, they still find a way to put up a lot of points. They’re 8th in all of Division 1 in scoring per game and that’s because of the way they pass the ball.
Big game for Mintz
Davion Mintz got off to a notoriously slow start to begin the season, but he’s turned into a steady presence for this team. The veteran guard isn't the flashiest. He isn't the best shooter or the best passer. But he works his tail off and his leadership is invaluable.
Mintz got going on the offensive end and never let up. In fact, he tied his career high. This was all while he was tasked with guarding Vandy’s All-SEC point guard, Scotty Pippen, Jr., for the majority of the game. Mintz plays so hard and has been known to hit a big shot or two, including a big three to knock off the ‘Dores last season.
Washington hasn’t quite rediscovered his groove yet
TyTy Washington has been arguably UK’s second-best player this season. He’s the second leading scorer and second in assists. He leads the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio.
However, since the freshman guard rolled his ankle against the Auburn Tigers, he hasn't quite been the same. Of course, it’s only been two games, so it’s tough to judge Washington too harshly, but I think it’s fair to say he hasn't rediscovered his groove yet.
The future lottery pick was just 1-9 from the field against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday and that carried over to this game. While most players would get discouraged when the shots aren't falling, TyTy still defended, passed, and rebounded well against the Jayhawks. He didn't do much of anything in this one, other than a cool and-one following a big Jacob Toppin chase-down block to get the crowd going.
It’s just a matter of time before Washington finds his footing, but it’s notable that he hasn't been quite the same since that ankle injury.
Brooks continues to provide steady presence
I haven't been the biggest Keion Brooks, Jr. advocate this season, but he’s giving me no other choice. The junior forward is limited in many areas of the game, but he’s found his niche and decided to trust the role John Calipari has tasked him with.
After putting up 27 points, including 13 straight, and eight rebounds against the Jayhawks, Brooks had another big game as he tallied another 20-point game. We all know Brooks is deadly from midrange, but something he’s providing that not many others on this team have shown a tendency to do is get to the free throw line.
Brooks isn't a world beater, but he’s got sneaky athleticism, and he’s been much more impressive since he’s let the game come to him and played within the offense.
If Brooks continues to play at this level, or close to it, this Kentucky team may very well cut down the nets. But before they can do that, the Cats need to take care of business against the Crimson Tide on Saturday—a dangerous team.